Whether the world will go with a bang or with a whimper is the great question of modernity. T.S. Eliot’s famous line on “broken jaw of our lost kingdoms” and the world as “a valley of dying stars” is a pretty close poetic image of what Rene Guenon calls deviation. The existence of Tradition implies that there will be a civilization which turns away from it, necessarily deviating to a point when it begins to develop Counter-Tradition, i.e. becomes consciously opposed to its Origin. This process is pushed forward by counter-initiation, by which Guenon means the activity of producing “qualities” for the exercise of mock spirituality.
The intrinsic need of the human soul to be illuminated by Spirit gets transformed into a thirst for spiritual experience, and whoever can provide it is welcomed by the masses. This is an instance of what Guenon calls the counterfeit – an entity bearing the closest possible resemblance to something real but inverting its sense and purpose, i.e. its essence, while retaining similar appearance. So, for instance, we witness the practice of experimenting with religions – some people change confessions as socks or, if the money is involved, as jobs – or striving to attain religious experience. This can only be defined as a manifestation of the counterfeit, since the experimental method does not proceed from principle and is essentially meant to master something – to gain control over it through understanding. Religion, however, expresses that which is ultimately higher and cannot be conceived in the terms of the lower, as should be the case in an experiment, because experimentation is a method of dealing with matter in a controlled environment for the purpose of control. There is no way to control Spirit, and therefore there’s no way to experience it within the modernist framework.
The counterfeit is a pseudo-essence, a parasite festering on a dead body of what was once a living tradition. One of its curious aspects is the tendency to eradicate past existence and keep the consciousness of its recipients in the present. In this regard it is quite similar to the simulacrum, only it presupposes a deliberating will as its creator. Namely counterfeits exist in order to bring about Counter-Tradition, i.e. pseudo-spirit and pseudo-quality to the world. They are, therefore, fruits of an inverted, but quite deliberate, spiritual endeavor to mimic a reawakening of religion and metaphysics. How this false dawn would look is something Guenon declines to describe because he considers it imperative only to describe what will inevitably ensue afterwards. When subversion reaches the lowest point, releasing, quite literally, hell on earth, things immediately have nowhere else to go but upwards. Once the lie is absolutely realized, the ground falls out from under it – it can exist only as a parasite on the body of truth.
The end of the world is simply a complete revelation of lie qua lie, and therefore nothing else but a revelation of truth. Once absolute power is reached it turns against itself, often in the form of unintentional parody and satire at its own expense. So we can safely conjecture that the end of the world will be very much like a final joke the Devil plays on himself, a mockery of the professional mocker. One can notice this in the crucial anti-Traditional move of our times: affirmation of homosexual “marriages.” As opposition to legalization of this practice – one intended to bring down fundamental discernment of sexes and open the flood gates for eradicating any semblance of human image handed down by Tradition – is forfeit, resisters are nevertheless left with infinite opportunities to ridicule the consequences of legalization of these pseudo-nuptials. And the ridicule is picking up steam, especially unintentional self-ridicule on behalf of those promoting this equally funny and grotesque piece of social engineering.
Once the luminaries of progress unmask themselves, they can’t help but show what they truly are: a tedious bunch with sinister intent, naked for everyone to see, including themselves. The exemplary counterfeit called “political correctness,” serving as a tool for deluding people into believing they are ‘humane’ and ‘just’ through approval of execrable practices, displays this unmistakable sign of its “pseudo” nature – it is essentially a parody of morality, and once it succeeds in abolishing its object, it has nothing else to parody but itself.
But these are only some observations on the present state of affairs. The real horror is probably still on its way, and we can safely conjecture only that it will necessary be at the same time horrible and hilarious.
Everybody knows the world is going to end, yet rarely does anyone know what the world is. Rene Guenon’s explanation as to why this must to come to pass is entirely consequent: the world as we know it is a lie within a lie. The only possible end imaginable is therefore the end of the lie: dissolution of its counterfeits and the reestablishment of order in a way that we have no positive means to imagine. Guenon expressed it through Hindu schema of cyclic Yugas or “Ages” of the world, which express the true quality of time, i.e. time as a being with innate telos. As we are living out the end of the Kali Yuga or Dark age, its necessary end must be the shattering of darkness at the darkest hour, a rooster’s crowing in the blackness just before the dawn. Taking all the contemporary madness into consideration, we can at least affirm one sure thing about how it’s going to sound like: one hell of a laugh.
So, if we are living out the great End, let’s give it a defiant laugh. For as civilization accelerates into freefall and panic – generally masked as euphoria, just as the freefall is masked as progress –one cannot help but notice how progressively surreal and unavoidably funny it all becomes. So, why not mock the great mockery until it dissolves into nothing from which it came? Come to think of it, when all is said and done, there is not much else left to do besides repentance. The world won’t be redeemed by laughing at its tail-spinning counterfeit, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Anyways, if Guenon is to be believed, there really won’t be much choice. When the whole cosmos realizes that Antichrist has no clothes … well, that shall be laughter borne from the heavens.
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
Read all Branko Malic’s work at Kali Tribune.
[…] Rene Guenon on the End […]
So let us laugh then, no matter that this laughter might superficially resemble the counterfeit laughter of madness at the end of La Dolce Vita.
Excellent post. Thank you.
Guenon’s prose is frequently turgid and long-winded, and there’s a dry, abstract quality to it that can be quite off-putting. That, however, is just the surface level of things. Guenon is immensely worth persevering with. He’s essential reading, especially today, as you indicate with so many indghtful examples. I particularly like what you say about panic masked as euphoria and free-fall disguised as progress.
Guenon foresaw both the banality and the latent horror of the so-called ‘New Age’ many decades before this counterfeit and bogus ‘spirituality’ entered the public consciousness. He saw how this fake spirituality is indelibly linked with developments in the political, cultural and social realms. He is, in short, a prophet of our times.
His writings, in my opinion, lack the passion and imaginative flair to spark a counter-cultural resistance to contemporary decay. Guenon is no Dostoyevsky, or C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien for that matter. Nonetheless, he remains the most acute metaphysician I can think of and a master diagnostician of the ills of our era.
I would be very interested to learn the extent to which Guenonian ideas are influential in Russia today. I have heard it said, for instance, that Alexander Dugin is a keen student of Guenon but I have no way of verifying this.
Thanks again and best wishes.
I only knew of Guenon as it was his writings that pointed a young Eugene Rose toward Holy Orthodoxy, and his eventual joining of ROCOR. The rest, they say, is all of grace, and his own podvig.
I discovered this site when you posted the link on DS!!
Thank you for that brother!
I enjoy every bit of it!!
Dugin references Guenon here in an interview here.
Bravo on this wonderful essay! Guenon is so right of course, and perhaps in his time, he didn’t even grasp quite how right the leftward drift of civilization would prove him to be! One of the funniest paradoxical parodies has to be the insistence upon racial diversity among West European elites, which in turn is flooding their own countries with some of the most barbarous, murderous, and illiberal people on the planet. Liberalism eats itself.
Entropy observed is entropy reaching its end. When you can quite literally see the decline, both due to its unabashed hubris and the pace with which it gallops forward, you know that the end is in sight. Whether we will witness the return of the Holy Son, or merely the birth of a new Cycle, and thus a new Golden Age, we should all have broad smiles on our faces when confronted by the jackals of Modernity. The tiger runs itself into the ground, and in the jungle it once ruled, we shall build temples as high as the sky to the Lord in Heaven!
Thank you for this great essay on R. Guenon!
Alexander Dugin labels him as a key figure in defining principles of the so called” Integral Traditionalism”-position of the total and indisputable dedication to ”the spiritual tradition”, which is understood as ”a unique and absolute truth”. He is interested in ”the traditional elite”. The basic principle of his methaphysics is the principle of ” единства истини”( the unity of the truth). There’s a hierarchy of its different forms. The further you are from it ( the one and only truth), the closer you get to the field of lie and deception. According to him, all modern spiritual problems should not be taken as” the tradition and the modern world”, but as ” the tradition vs the modern world”( Александр Дугин:” Рене Генон:
пророк золотога века”).
А.D. is also aware of the certain ”limitations” of Guenon’s teaching, as he offers many of his thesis as the follower of the Islamic Worldview.
Thank you Jelena and Mark for your helpful comments and to Branko for the original excellent post.
Great post and even freater site!
Respect from Serbia!!
Reblogged this on Jay's Analysis.
In relation to the themes of this article I think George Carlin really poignantly summed it up when he remarked about how fucked up and ridiculous everything is getting and how he was happy to not get involved and just watch the show. By sitting back and watching reality “spiral down a drain” and by watching “the circus show with a front row seat”, he was able to detach himself and disengage from all emotional investment connected to the trivialities of modern life.
In your article though, you raise the issue of the current homosexual marriage legislation though as if it’s a problem, why pay it so much attention or seek to expose it as a vulgar triviality? Such political concessions come in many forms: What was the real reason women were given the right to vote? What was the real motivating force to free black slaves in America? Shit like this has been going on since humanity’s inception and such political maneuvers to conceal evil machinations of tyrannical and sociopathic control are old news.
There is still a couple more billion xeroxed versions of reality to pass through until the next Yuga but I believe we are all equally fucked and in this together. In the meantime I recommend the Tao Te Ching, 80’s boogie funk, and always keepin enough duckets in your pocket for a few coronas in the sunshine.
You understand nothing.
[…] RENE GUENON ON THE END […]
Referenced in my own weekly article: http://citadelfoundations.blogspot.com/2015/09/enjoy-decline-not-quite.html
I am sorry but perennialism with its avatars and exoteric/esoteric distinctions will always remain Blavatskian humbug in my opinion.
Perennialism itself claims too much, but some of its points were integral to early European Christian thinking.
The point is that those points which were integral to early Christian thinking can be made without reference to perennialism or its avatars.
Readers on this blog are mentioning the name of Dugin in the same breath as Guenon? Are we reading Guenon with the same blunt tools that a fundamentalist uses to read a Bible or Koran?
Dugin is a slave to the past as the most progressive Western prof is a slave to the future. A fine thinker like the unchained Guenon knows how to live in the present, not in a gifted, romanticized past. Guenon is a Phoenix, while Dugins and the progressive ilk are deer staring into headlights.
Good luck, and stay thirsty my friends!
At best , Guenon’s thought qualifies as a prolegomenon to Orthodoxy like the works of the Greek philosophers.
Reblogged this on Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar and commented:
It becomes a matter of who they take down with them.
If you can’t laugh, you’re dead.